Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 17:1

Furthermore, Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Please let me choose 12,000 men that I may arise and pursue David tonight.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Citizens;   Council;   Diplomacy;   Friendship;   Malice;   Spies;   War;   Thompson Chain Reference - Absalom;   Ahithophel;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies of Israel, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Amasa;   Hushai;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Absalom;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Elder;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Judas Iscariot;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel;   Hushai;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ahithophel;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ahithophel ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Absalom;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ahith'ophel;   Je'ther;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Absalom (1);   Choose;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Let me now choose out twelve thousand men - Had this counsel been followed, David and his little troop would soon have been destroyed; nothing but the miraculous interposition of God could have saved them. Twelve thousand chosen troops coming against him, in his totally unprepared state, would have soon settled the business of the kingdom. Ahithophel well saw that, this advice neglected, all was lost.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/2-samuel-17.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

This night - The night of the day on which David fled, and Absalom entered into Jerusalem. Ahithophel‘s idea was to fall upon David by surprise, and in the first confusion of the surprised army to seize and kill David only.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/2-samuel-17.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

PREPARATIONS FOR THE ULTIMATE AND DECISIVE BATTLE

This chapter recounts the maneuvers both of Absalom and his partisans and that of David and his supporters as they got ready for the final resolution of the conflict initiated by Absalom's attempt to seize the throne of Israel. There was no device by which a conflict of this nature could have been resolved without bloodshed.

AHITHOPHEL'S COUNSEL TO STRIKE AT ONCE

"Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will set out and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged, and throw him into a panic; and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down the king only, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace." And the advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel."

"Let me choose twelve thousand men" (2 Samuel 17:1). This line in all probability gives us the clue to Ahithophel's defection from David. He simply desired to usurp the kingdom himself. If Absalom had consented to this request, then Ahithophel, with the pick of Absalom's army, would quickly have destroyed David and then would himself have been the supreme power in Israel.

Furthermore, this is the only possible way in which the lives of Bathsheba and Solomon could have been saved. It should be remembered that they were, respectively, the grand-daughter and the great-grandson of Ahithophel; and if Absalom had indeed succeeded David, nothing on earth could have saved their lives. Therefore, we believe that Ahithophel probably hated Absalom even more than he hated David and that, given the twelve thousand men he requested here, he would quickly have disposed of Absalom also.

Of course, we cannot prove such a theory as this, but it also explains another reason for Ahithophel's counsel for Absalom to take David's concubines. This was the "bait" intended by Ahithophel to keep Absalom occupied in the opening days of the mortal confrontation between Absalom and his father. As we shall see, a moment later, there was only one thing that kept Absalom from yielding to that temptation.

"I will set out and pursue David tonight" (2 Samuel 17:1). Scholars generally agree that tonight in this passage was the night of that day when David fled Jerusalem, but it is by no means certain that Ahithophel's advice regarding Absalom's violating the king's ten concubines had as yet been followed by Absalom. This writer's opinion is the same as that of H. P. Smith who wrote that, "The debate between Ahithophel and Hushai (as in this chapter) was held on the day of Absalom's arrival in Jerusalem, after the appropriation of the concubines had been decided upon and before it had been consummated."[1] This appears to be a key factor in Absalom's choice of a delay in the attack on David.

"Ahithophel's advice here shows his political sagacity; if it had been adopted, it would have extinguished the cause of David."[2]

"You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace" (2 Samuel 17:3). What this said to Absalom was that, "If we can only kill David, there will be no war."[3]

"And the advice pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel" (2 Samuel 17:4). "That Absalom was prepared to adopt this advice to kill his father that very night without any qualm of conscience or feeling for his father shows how far he had degenerated into his depravity."[4] "That, a moment later, he was so easily convinced to reject this plan indicates the shallowness of his perception and his inability to reach a decision."[5]

The heartless ingratitude of the beast Absalom was mentioned by Henry: "It was not long since Absalom himself had fled from Jerusalem because of his murder of Amnon; but David contented himself to allow Absalom to live as an exile, although Absalom surely deserved to be brought home and executed. However, so void of all natural affection is Absalom that now, when his father had fled Jerusalem, not for any crime, but for fear, Absalom eagerly thirsts for his father's blood."[6]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/2-samuel-17.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Moreover, Ahithophel said unto Absalom,.... Either at the same time, or quickly after he had given the foregoing advice:

let me now choose out twelve thousand men: out of those that were with Absalom, which shows their number to be large; and twelve thousand are pitched upon with respect to the twelve tribes of Israel, a thousand from every tribe; Josephus has only ten thousand:

and I will arise and pursue after David this night; he took upon him to be general of the army, as well as a counsellor; or this he said to show how confident he was of the success of his counsel, that if Absalom, or any other, should decline the conduct of the army upon it, as a hazardous attempt, he would undertake it himself; or rather it may be, he was not willing that Absalom should go out in person with the army, not so much for his own safety, as lest through his affection for the king he should spare him, when he fell into his hands, or they two should be reconciled; he proposed to do it that night, partly for expedition, no time being to be lost, and partly for the greater surprise of David and his men.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2-samuel-17.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, a Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

(a) The wicked are so greedy to execute their malice, that they leave no opportunity that may further the same.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/2-samuel-17.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The history of Absalom's rebellion, and David's difficulties in consequence thereof, is prosecuted through this chapter. Ahithophel's counsel being rejected by Absalom, and Hushai's accepted, Ahithephel hangeth himself. David receiveth secret intelligence how to act.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/2-samuel-17.html. 1828.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 Samuel 17:1 Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

Ver. 1. Moreover, Ahithophel said unto Absalom.] This was a second politic indeed, but pestilent counsel, given by Ahithophel to Absalom, stirring him up to parricide; and offering his best service as a captain and commander, which in counsellors and politicians is not ordinary.

And pursue after David this night.] He knew well that celerity in war is a great matter. Witness Alexander the Great with his Mηδεν αναβαλλομενος, and Julius Caesar with his Veni, Vidi, Vici. Pompey lost the day at the Pharsalian field by delays. And Charles, king of Sicily and Jerusalem, was for his lingering called Cunctator, because he stayed till opportunity was lost.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-17.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

2 Samuel 17:1. Moreover, Ahithophel said unto Absalom Ahithophel, aware of the advantages of dispatch, advised an immediate pursuit of David, without suffering him to breathe from the fatigues that he had just gone through; and his advice well justifies the character given of him in the Scripture. It was in its several parts admirably fitted both to the inclinations and the interest of his pupil. He consigned him to his pleasures, ch. 2 Samuel 16:22 and took all the danger to himself; and at the same time he relieved his little remains of humanity from the necessity of imbruing his own hands in his father's blood. His incest was, for the present, personal guilt enough. That act of outrage would make Absalom's reconciliation with his father desperate; and whilst he indulged his evil appetite, Ahithophel, with a chosen band, would pursue and surprise David. Nothing could be more wordly-wise, or more hellishly wicked. It was indeed as the advice of an oracle, but very different from that dictated by the Spirit of God: and yet, horrid as it was, it pleased that vile son and his associates.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/2-samuel-17.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 SAMUEL CHAPTER 17

Hushai, David’s friend, being, by David’s order, gone over to Absalom, by God’s appointment overthroweth Ahithophel’s counsel, 2 Samuel 17:1-14. Hushai certifieth David thereof, and adviseth him forthwith to march on, 2 Samuel 17:15-21. David passeth over Jordan, 2 Samuel 17:22. Ahithophel hangeth himself, 2 Samuel 17:23. David cometh to Mahanaim: Absalom passeth over Jordan, making Amasa the captain of his host, 2 Samuel 17:21-26. David is there furnished with provisions by his friends, 2 Samuel 17:27-29.

I am so well assured of the goodness of this counsel, that I will venture my own person and life in execution of it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/2-samuel-17.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

2 Samuel 17:1. I will arise and pursue after David — It seems he was a soldier as well as a counsellor. Or, at least, he thought his counsel so sure of being successful that he offered himself to put it in execution. He was probably afraid, also, that if Absalom should command the men himself, natural affection might prevail with him to spare his father, and not take away his life; or, perhaps, even work an agreement between them, and so leave him in danger of being called to account for his rebellion.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/2-samuel-17.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

This night. Achitophel has a mind to shew that he is not only an able statesman, but a good general. (Haydock) --- On such occasions, expedition is of the utmost consequence, that the people may not have time to enter into themselves, or to concentrate about their lawful king. "Nothing is more delightful than haste in civil discord, where action is more requisite than consultation." By delays, "he would give the wicked an opportunity to repent, and the good would unite together. Crimes are confirmed by rushing on; good counsels by deliberation." Scelera impetu; bona consilia mora valescere. (Tacitus, Hist. i.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/2-samuel-17.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

choose out. Septuagint and Vulgate read "choose for myself".

men. Hebrew. "ish. App-14.

I will. Ahithophel manifests personal vengeance. See note on 2 Samuel 16:21 with 2 Samuel 17:11.

this night. Compare Psalms 4:8. Psalm 4 is concerning inheritances. David"s was in jeopardy (2 Samuel 17:2), but his trust was in Jehovah"s favour (2 Samuel 15:26; 2 Samuel 22:20. Psalms 18:19).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/2-samuel-17.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XVII.

(1) Pursue after David this night.—Ahithophel saw clearly that Absalom’s success depended on striking an immediate blow. He felt confident, and perhaps with reason, that David in his distress and weariness was in no condition to resist a sudden onset. That he was wise in his counsel is made plain by the opposition of Hushai and the anxiety to send tidings to David with all speed. “This night” is generally taken to mean the night of the day on which David left Jerusalem; but from 2 Samuel 17:16 and 2 Samuel 15:28 it appears that he was already encamped by the fords of the Jordan, a greater distance than he could have accomplished in one day’s march.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/2-samuel-17.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:
I will arise
Proverbs 1:16; 4:16; Isaiah 59:7,8
this night
Psalms 3:3-5; 4:8; 109:2-4
Reciprocal: 2 Samuel 3:3 - Absalom;  2 Samuel 13:5 - Lay thee;  2 Samuel 15:28 - General2 Samuel 16:11 - seeketh;  2 Samuel 17:21 - thus hath Ahithophel;  2 Samuel 18:5 - Deal gently;  Esther 5:14 - the thing;  Psalm 31:13 - while;  Psalm 38:12 - lay snares;  Psalm 43:1 - the deceitful;  Psalm 55:9 - divide;  Psalm 55:10 - Day;  Psalm 71:4 - out of the;  Psalm 71:10 - take;  Psalm 86:14 - assemblies;  Psalm 109:16 - he remembered;  Psalm 118:13 - GeneralPsalm 119:95 - wicked;  Psalm 144:11 - and deliver me;  Proverbs 12:6 - words;  Matthew 10:21 - the children;  2 Corinthians 12:15 - though;  1 Timothy 1:9 - murderers;  James 3:6 - a world

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 17:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/2-samuel-17.html.